Survey of Asian Culture

Hum 231-77C



The Course:

This course conducts a ‘survey’ of major cultures of Asia.   We will explore the traditions of India, China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. 

For each major culture, we will look at traditional religious and philosophical systems, the visual arts and architecture, and literature.   We will focus on the relationship between the cultural and religious ideals and their artistic representation. 



Schirokauer, Conrad and Clark, Donald, Modern East Asia:  A Brief History  (Belmont, CA:  Wadsworth/Thomson).


What is the purpose of this study?

Almost everyone today recognizes the degree to which the world we live in has become smaller and smaller.  That perception is the result of a process of change called ‘globalization’.  This term, globalization, refers to the end of age-old isolation of cultures as each part of the world, no matter how geographically remote, is increasingly enmeshed in a network of relationships that bring all parts of the world together in the same system.  The best example of this ‘network of relationships’ is the capitalist economy which links remote, local economies with markets and investment decisions across the globe. 


As this situation continues to bring different traditions across the world in close touch with one another, it becomes imperative to develop and deepen cultural understandings of one another. 

This course is one opportunity offered to undergraduate college students to (1) acquire basic knowledge of Asian thought, art, and cultural traditions,  (2) to deepen their capacity to understand the values and ideals that have played a formative role in shaping these civilizations; and (3) to recognize some of the challenges to these traditions by the global, consumer culture of today; and, (4) to achieve a broader perspective on global and even national issues by understanding how these issues are viewed by others. 



Learning Objectives:

  1. to develop a geographical knowledge of the civilizations under study
  2. to acquire good recall of the basic facts (names of leading individuals, groups, institutions, ideas and ideological systems, dates) associated with the major topics of study
  3. to identify, define, and explain the major religious and/or philosophical system under study
  4. to identify and describe the dominant stylistic elements of expression in the visual arts, architecture, and literature of each culture studied
  5. to recognize the ideals and values that inform objects of art and architecture and works of literature
  6. to develop comparative understanding of different religious/philosophical views and ethical concerns
  7. to clarify and explain different approaches to life and human meaning and the place of humans in the natural world—as expressed in the thought, religion, and art of each culture under study